Anita Dobson

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Anita Dobson
Dobson in London Road 2015
Born (1949-04-29) 29 April 1949 (age 74)
Stepney, London, England
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1974–present
Known forRole of Angie Watts in EastEnders
(m. 2000)

Anita, Lady May (born 29 April 1949), known as Anita Dobson,[1] is an English stage, film and television actress, and singer. She is best known for her role from 1985 to 1988 as Angie Watts in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. In 1986, she reached number four in the UK Singles Chart with "Anyone Can Fall in Love", a song based on the theme music of EastEnders. She is married to Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Sir Brian May.

Dobson's other television roles include the 1989 ITV sitcom Split Ends. In 2003, she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress for the National Theatre production of Frozen. She has also starred in the West End as Mama Morton in the musical Chicago (2003) and Gertrude in Hamlet (2005), making her RSC debut in the 2012 revival of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Dobson also appeared in the 2023 Christmas special of Doctor Who. Her film appearances include Darkness Falls (1999) and London Road (2015).

Early life[edit]

Dobson was born in Stepney, London. She trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.[2]


Dobson appeared in several series in the early 1980s including the Jim Davidson sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle (1983). She is best known for playing the emotionally battered and alcoholic landlady Angie Watts in BBC1 soap opera EastEnders, a role she played from the show's inception in 1985 until 1988.


Dobson was not the first person to be cast as Angie – another actress, Jean Fennell, had already begun recording when it was decided that her performance did not "gel" with the original idea of the character, and Dobson was substituted in the role. Whilst playing Angie Watts, alcoholic landlady of the Queen Vic, Dobson worked closely with actor Leslie Grantham, landlord of the Queen Victoria who played her adulterous husband 'Dirty Den Watts'. On Christmas Day in 1986, 30.15 million viewers tuned in to witness Den handing Angie her divorce papers, giving the soap its highest ever episode rating, which has yet to be surpassed by any other soap in the UK.

After Dobson left EastEnders in 1988, BBC executives made numerous offers for her to return, but she did not accept any of the offers; she later commented: "Why tarnish the gorgeous creation that was Angie Watts?"[3] Executives finally decided she could not be persuaded to return, and in 2002 the character of Angie Watts died off-screen of alcohol poisoning and was brought home to be buried by her on-screen daughter Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), who had returned to the show the previous year.

Other roles[edit]

Since leaving EastEnders Dobson has appeared in many television, film and theatre roles, including the BBC sitcoms Red Dwarf, Rab C. Nesbitt and her own sitcom series Split Ends (1989), which lasted for only one series. She has also made guest appearances in the BBC dramas Dangerfield (1995), Ghosts (1995), Sunburn (1999) and Hotel Babylon (2007), and the ITV detective series The Last Detective (2004) among others, along with the films Sweet Revenge (1998) and Darkness Falls (1999). She has also been reunited with fellow EastEnder Leslie Grantham in the Sky production called The Stretch and Five's Horror series Urban Gothic (2000).

Dobson worked on the ITV1 police drama The Bill in 2005 and appeared in the radio Doctor Who serial Blood of the Daleks. Dobson has also played five different guest characters in the BBC1 medical drama Casualty, appearing in episodes in October 2000, July 2009, July 2011, March 2013 and October 2017; she also had two guest roles in Casualty's sister series, Holby City, in September 2003 and December 2014 respectively. Dobson featured in the film London Road in 2015 and appeared alongside Simon Callow in the Gold comedy series The Rebel in 2016.

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 2002 when she was surprised by Michael Aspel.[citation needed]

On 20 January 2023, it was announced that Dobson would be guest starring in the fourteenth series of Doctor Who As the mysterious Mrs Flood. Her casting was announced alongside that of Michelle Greenidge.[4][5] The episode was broadcast on Christmas Day, 25 December 2023.[6] On 27 April 2023, Dobson appeared in the series 8 opener of Inside No. 9, "Mother's Ruin", as Frances.[7][8]

Musical and stage career[edit]

Dobson has also performed as a singer, with varying degrees of chart success. In August 1986 she reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart with "Anyone Can Fall in Love", a song based on the theme music of EastEnders, which was written by Simon May. The song was produced by Queen guitarist Brian May,[9] who later became her husband. She has also released several other singles and albums with minor chart success.

On stage, Dobson has starred in repertory at Salisbury Playhouse in Shaw's Pygmalion in 1980; the 1981 Ray Davies/Barrie Keeffe musical Chorus Girls and as Hazel Fletcher in the short-lived musical Budgie with Adam Faith. She also appeared in the revived Tom Stoppard musical Rough Crossing and played a holocaust survivor in My Lovely Shayna Maidel. She also appeared as Mama Morton in the West End musical Chicago.[10]

Dobson played the role of Gertrude in the English Touring Theatre production of Hamlet, at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End, following a UK tour in the autumn of 2005.

In 2012, Dobson played the role of Mistress Quickly in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.[11]

From September 2016 to January 2017, Dobson appeared as Madame Morrible in the musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London.[12]

In June 2019, Anita joined Trevor Nunn's West End revival of Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse Theatre, playing the role of Yente, alongside Maria Friedman taking on the role of Golde,[13] until the production's closure on 2 November 2019.[14]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

On 6 September 2011, it was announced that Dobson would take part in the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing.[15] In the launch show of the ninth series on 10 September 2011, it was revealed that she would be partnered by Latin specialist Robin Windsor. She was eliminated on 27 November 2011 after Robin Windsor had been unable to dance for a week due to an injury. Anita Dobson therefore rehearsed and danced the Cha Cha Cha and the Swingathon with Brendan Cole.[16]

Week # Dance/song Judges' score Result
Horwood Goodman Dixon Tonioli Total
1 Waltz / Three Times a LadyCommodores 7 7 7 7 28 N/A
2 Salsa / Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)Harry Belafonte 7 7 7 7 28 Safe
3 Jive / You Can't Stop the Beat—from Hairspray 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
4 American Smooth / I've Got You Under My SkinFrank Sinatra 8 8 8 8 32 Safe
5 Tango / Devil WomanCliff Richard 7 8 8 8 31 Safe
6 Charleston / I Got RhythmGeorge Gershwin 7 8* 8 8 31 Safe
7 Argentine Tango / Tango—from Cirque du Soleil 7 9 8 9 33 Bottom two
8 Samba / Come On EileenDexys Midnight Runners 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
9 Cha Cha Cha / Uptown GirlBilly Joel 7 8 7 8 30 Eliminated
Swing Marathon / Chattanooga Choo Choo 2 out of 7


For her time on EastEnders as Angie Watts, Dobson received the Pye Award for Outstanding Female Personality.[18]

Dobson was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance in Frozen at the Royal National Theatre: Cottesloe.[19]

In 2007, Dobson was made a Companion of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Personal life[edit]

Dobson married Brian May on 18 November 2000. They had first met in 1986.[20] She is a patron of The Match Girls' Memorial[21][22] and of the theatre charity the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America.



Denotes works that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
1994 Beyond Bedlam Judith
Seaview Knights The Blind Concierge
1998 The Revengers’ Comedies Daphne Teal
The Tichborne Claimant Fanny Loder
1999 Darkness Falls Mrs. Hayter
2004 Charlie Mrs. Richardson Senior
2015 Solitary Nurse Mary
The Rise of the Krays Madge
London Road June
2016 The Fall of the Krays Madge
2018 The Fight Gene Dunn
2022 Tomorrow Morning Karen
2023 Christmas at the Holly Day Inn Molly Hennings
TBA This Time Next Year Ms. Mentis Post-production
TBA Jeb: The Fame and Fury The Narrator Post-production


Denotes works that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Leave Him to Heaven Roxanne TV film
1981 Nanny Dorothy Episode: "Innocent Party"
1983 Partners in Crime Esther Quant Episode: "The House of Lurking Death"
1983–1984 Up the Elephant and Round the Castle Lois Tight 3 episodes
1985–1988 EastEnders Angie Watts Regular role; 274 episodes
1989 Split Ends Cath 6 episodes
1990 The World of Eddie Weary Roxanne TV film
1993 Red Dwarf Captain Tau Episode: "Psirens"
Rab C. Nesbitt Cath Episode: "Rich"
Woof! Mrs. Fuller 2 episodes
Sean's Show Betty Episode: #2.6
1994 Smokescreen Gertie 5 episodes
The Fireboy Mum TV film
1995 Ghosts Suzi Rudkin Episode: "I'll Be Watching You"
Go Back Out Mum TV film
Dangerfield Miriam Lampeter Episode: "The Body in the Quarry"
1996 The Famous Five Mrs. Stick Episode: "Five Run Away Together"
1997 New Voices Ellen Episode: "Enough Excitement"
Highlander Molly Kingsley Episode: "Diplomatic Immunity"
Get Well Soon Mrs. Ivy Osbourne 4 episodes
The Bill Jane Elliot Episode: "Has Anybody Here Seen Bigmouth?"
1999 Sunburn Joyce Potts Episode: #1.6
Junk Mrs. Lawson TV film
2000 Hearts and Bones Donna Slaney Episode: "Slipping Through My Fingers"
Urban Gothic Fenella Episode: "Pineapple Chunks"
Casualty Elaine Carrington Episode: "Choked: Part 2"
The Stretch Sam Greene TV film
Daddyfox Joanne
2002 NCS Manhunt Jean Harris 2 Episodes
Fun at the Funeral Parlour Fernando Episode: "Dog Dago Afternoon"
2003 Doctors Elizabeth Prior Episode: "Truth Or Dare"
2003 Holby City Lynn Spencer Episode: "Love Nor Money"
2004 The Last Detective Ruth Leyman Episode: "Christine"
2005 New Tricks Elaine Wanless Episode: "A Delicate Touch"
The Bill Lynn Hunter Episode: "Dangerous Relationships"
2008 Hotel Babylon Lady Amelia Hamilton Episode: #3.2
2009 Casualty Cora Episode: "Ask Me No Questions"
2009–2011 Gigglebiz Various 13 episodes
2010 Mission Green Santa Mrs. Santa All 10 episodes
Little Crackers Nan Episode: "My First Nativity"
2011 Casualty Rachel Lan Episode: "Pascal's Wager"
2011 Coming Up Maggie Episode: "Hooked"
2012 Sadie J Nan Bet Episode: "Kissalicious"
2013 Casualty Ruth Boswell Episode: "And the Walls Come Tumbling Down"
2013 Moving On Kate Marr Episode: "The Value"
2014 Holby City Betty Stern Episode: "Star of Wonder"
2015 Pompidou Sally Episode: "The Date"
2016–2017 The Rebel Margaret All 9 episodes
2016 Doctors Edwina Herriot 2 episodes
2017 Casualty Naomi Danes Episode: "Mrs Beauchamp's Powder"
2017 Call the Midwife Mabel Tillerson Episode: "Christmas Special"
2018 Torvill & Dean Miss. Perry TV film
2018–2019 The Worst Witch Mirabelle Hubble 3 episodes
2021 The Long Call Grace Stephenson All 4 episodes
2022 Andy and the Band Auntie Shona Episode: "Boo! Who?"
Dodger Bertha Plummer Episode: "Christmas"
2023 Inside No. 9 Frances Episode: "Mother's Ruin"
Murder, They Hope Bella Episode: "Blood Actually"
2023–present Doctor Who Mrs. Flood Recurring role; Series 14[23]
TBA Generation Z TBA In production[24]

Theatre credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1974-1975 Babes in the Wood Mistress Truck Watford Palace Theatre
1975 Ardèle Ada Various Locations
1977-1978 The Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West Nottingham Playhouse
1978 Deeds Various Nottingham Playhouse
1978 The Alchemist Dol Common Nottingham Playhouse
1980 Pygmalion Eliza Doolittle Salisbury Playhouse
1981 Chorus Girls Chorus Girl Theatre Royal, Stratford
1982-1983 Dick Whittington Alice Fitzwarren Shaw Theatre, London
1983 Charley's Aunt Kitty Verdun Aldwych Theatre
1983-1984 Jack and the Beanstalk Spirit of the Beans Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells
1984 Rough Crossing Natasha Lyttelton Theatre
1984-1985 Henry IV Mistress Quickly Theatre Royal, Bath
1986-1987 Aladdin The Princess Bournemouth Pavilion
1987-1988 Aladdin The Princess Richmond Theatre
1988 Budgie Hazel Cambridge Theatre
1989-1990 Dick Whittington Fairy Godmother Orchard Theatre, Dartford
1990-1991 Aladdin The Genie Theatre Royal, Newcastle
1991 Kvetch Donna Garrick Theatre
1991 My Lovely...Shayna Maidel Luissa Ambassadors Theatre, London
1991-1992 Dick Whittington Fairy Godmother Hexagon Theatre, Reading
1992 Le Bourgeois gentilhomme Madame Jourdain National Theatre
1992-1993 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Richmond Theatre
1994-1995 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
1995-1996 The Break of Day April Various Locations
1997-1998 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Orchard Theatre, Dartford
1998 Frozen Nancy Birmingham Repertory Theatre
1998-1999 Dick Whittington Evil Queen Hackney Empire
1999 The Pajama Game Mabel Victoria Palace Theatre, London
2000-2001 The Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West Richmond Theatre
2001 The Three Sisters Olga Royal Court Theatre
2001-2002 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen The Derngate Theatre, Northampton
2002-2003 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Fairfield Halls, Croydon
2003 Chicago Mama Morton Adelphi Theatre
2003-2004 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells
2004-2005 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
2005 Hamlet Gertrude UK Tour
2006 Hamlet Gertrude New Ambassadors Theatre, London
2005-2006 Santa Claus the Musical Mrs. Claus Mayflower Theatre
2006-2007 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wicked Queen Ipswich Regent Theatre
2007-2008 Santa Claus the Musical Mrs. Claus Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
2009-2010 Aladdin The Genie The Wimbledon Theatre
2010-2011 Sleeping Beauty Carabosse Richmond Theatre
2011-2012 Aladdin The Genie Milton Keynes Theatre
2012 The Merry Wives of Windsor Mistress Quickly Royal Shakespeare Company
2013-2014 Aladdin The Genie Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
2015-2016 Sleeping Beauty Carabosse New Victoria Theatre, Woking
2016-2017 Wicked Madame Morrible Apollo Victoria Theatre
2018-2019 Cinderella Wicked Stepmother The New Theatre, Hull
2019 Annie Miss Hannigan UK Tour
2019-2020 Cinderella Wicked Stepmother Royal & Derngate, Northampton
2022 Aladdin Abanazar Brighton Centre


  1. ^ Cadden, Avril. "Eastenders veteran Anita Dobson on why she closed door on Albert Square return". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Central and Webber Douglas to merge". The Stage. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  3. ^ "EastEnders' Angie joins The Bill". BBC News. 26 April 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Anita Dobson and Michelle Greenidge join the next series of #DoctorWho". Twitter. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  5. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (20 January 2023). "Doctor Who casts EastEnders legend Anita Dobson in new season". Radio Times.
  6. ^ Radio Times 23 December 2023 - 5 January 2024
  7. ^ Craig, David (27 April 2023). "Inside No. 9 ending explained: Creators on 'gorier than ever' Mother's Ruin". Radio Times. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  8. ^ Marland, Sean (27 April 2023). "Anita Dobson talks Inside No. 9 and Doctor Who roles "I'm so busy at the moment!"". What to Watch. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  9. ^ Probert, Ian (15 September 2016). Rope Burns: One Man's Reluctant Obsession with Boxing. Pitch Publishing. ISBN 9781785312571. Retrieved 12 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent (13 July 2012). "Razzle-dazzle fades as West End curtain falls on Chicago after 15 years". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Royal Shakespeare Company Announces Complete Casting for The Merry Wives of Windsor". 1 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Wicked The Musical". Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Maria Friedman & Anita Dobson join Fiddler On The Roof". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  14. ^ Longman, Will (27 June 2019). "Fiddler on the Roof sets West End closing date". London Theatre Guide. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing signs up Lulu and Edwina Currie". BBC News. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing: Brendan comes to the rescue again!". BBC. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing: Jennifer Grey joins the judges on Strictly". BBC. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  18. ^ Smith, Julia; Holland, Tony (1987). EastEnders – The Inside Story. Book Club Associates. ISBN 978-0-563-20601-9.
  19. ^ "British Theatre Guide". Archived from the original on 9 December 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  20. ^ "Who is Anita Dobson? The star's age, marriage to Brian May and EastEnders character revealed\". Heart. 25 October 2021.
  21. ^ "Seminal Match Girls' Strike of 1888 Commemorated with English Heritage Blue Plaque in East London". English Heritage. 5 July 2022.
  22. ^ Evans, Connie (5 July 2022). "Match Girls' Strike of 1888 commemorated with blue plaque in East London". The Independent. (subscription required)
  23. ^ Doctor Who: Unleashed - The Church on Ruby Road, retrieved 25 December 2023
  24. ^ Kanter, Jake (18 October 2023). "'Generation Z' First Look: Ben Wheatley's Zombie Series Unveils Cast Including Robert Lindsay". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 18 October 2023. Retrieved 18 October 2023.

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